By Jonathan Assink with Jesse N. Love

Amory Peck opened the meeting introducing the PNW Conference’s Cabinet: the Revs. David Nieda, Mary Huycke, Daniel Foster, Patricia Simpson, Dale Cockrum, Sharon Moe, and David Valera introduced themselves and greeted the laity. Bishop Grant Hagiya also greeted everyone, thanking the work of the Conference Staff.

The session followed with a scripture reading from Micah 6, read by Sam Ward. Rosemary Mohney introduced an opening hymn and with Jacque Salmons leading in song. Jenni Yeoh prayed.

A highlight of this year’s Annual Conference is the election of a new conference lay leader. After faithfully serving 8 years, Amory Peck stepped down in her position per the rules of the church, thus opening the position for others to serve. The floor was opened for additional nominations. Immediately a motion was made shortly to close nominations with no additions.

Joan Holms of Queen Anne UMC and Barbara Moreland of Seattle First UMC offered themselves to the chance to serve. Both received three minutes to speak in support of their candidacy. Alan Lish of Arlington UMC took the stage and encouraged those voting to take time in “thoughtful meditation” before casting their ballots.

While, votes were being tallied, Molly Harper Haines of The Harper Haines group presented an update on the Conference capital campaign. Harper Haines shared that 60% of funds will go to the Bishop Jack Tuell Leadership Center, with 30% toward new faith communities, and the final 10% will go to Imagine No More Malaria.

Alan Lish returned to the microphone with results of the vote: Holms was elected Conference Lay Leader for the 2012-2016 term.

Judy Dirks of Bonners Ferry UMC welcomed Jim Winkler back to speak to our PNW Laity. Winkler emphasized the importance of Laity to the growth and health of the church. He joked of long sermons, “No souls are saved after [the first] 10 minutes.” The Laity responded with laughter and applause.

“We are the ones rooted in our congregations and communities,” Winkler explains as he highlights his own life and family stories of the Laity at work.

All great civil and human rights movements have been spiritual movements, Winkler argued; United Methodists – specifically the laity – can lead the way.

Amory Peck welcomed Marie Kuch, Ryan Russell and Matt Lockett, young people from the PNW Conference who attended General Conference. Kuch served as a delegate to General Conference; Russell was an alternate delegate and served on staff in the General Secretaries Office recording legislative sessions and counting votes; Lockett served as a “lobbyist” and spoke of “breaking the bar” in support of Methodist Federation for Social Action.

Reflecting on their GC experience, Kuch expressed concern we are losing the ability for holy conferencing. Russell was emboldened to be more vocal in his beliefs and fight for those on the margins. Lockett calls global church a blessing, but recognizes it means we won’t agree on everything.

Kuch, Russell and Lockett were greeted by a standing ovation as they left the stage.

As the laity session began closing, the laity offered a standing ovation for Peck for her years of service and closed with the hymn “We’ve a Story to Tell to the Nations”. Jim Winkler closed with a benediction. The Laity Session of this year’s Annual Conference helped to embolden and renew lay persons for a hopeful tomorrow.

Jonathan Assink serves as the Administrative Assistant for the Seattle District; Jesse N. Love serves as the Print & Publications Manager for the PNWUMC.

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